DETERMINED parents Lee Worrall and Claire Belcher have launched a £500k bid to save the life of their baby son who has a rare form of abdominal cancer.
Twenty-one-month-old Jaiden Worrall was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in April and now his mum and dad are setting out to raise the cash to pay for an operation – which is not available in the UK – because there is only a one-in-five chance Jaiden’s current course of treatment will eliminate the tumour.
Fundraising started on Saturday, when 30 friends, relatives and workmates of the Pontefract couple cycled from Castleford to Bridlington, followed by a charity evening at Castleford’s Lock Lane RL Club, where Mr Worrall plays.
Miss Belcher, 30, of St Paul’s Court, said: “Jaiden’s diagnosis came as a massive shock to us. His chemotherapy is going well so far but there’s an 80 per cent chance of a relapse and it might not happen for several years.
“That’s the scary thing, not knowing if and when he’ll be cured. We’re hoping and praying he’s one of the lucky 20 per cent.”
Jaiden’s condition, which affects around 100 UK children each year, was diagnosed after he was taken to hospital screaming with pain from what was initially thought to be a hip problem.
When the symptoms persisted, further tests identified the neuroblastoma, which by then had reached an advanced stage.
Miss Belcher said: “The consultant told me early neuroblastoma symptoms are very vague and it has usually reached stage four, which is high risk, before it can be picked up.
“It’s slowly starting to sink in but I still feel like I’m dreaming. You have good and bad days, sometimes you get these terrible thoughts but you have to tell yourself to snap out of it.”
Jaiden receives food and medication through a pair of tubes and faces another three courses of chemotherapy before an operation to remove the tumour from his adrenal gland.
Miss Belcher added: “Looking at Jaiden most of the time you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong. He’s such a chirpy little character when he’s on form.
“He loves the meerkats and E-On adverts and as soon as he sees those or hears music he starts jigging about. Seeing him like that keeps us going, hoping one day he’ll be as well as that all the time.”
Saturday’s bike ride and charity night raised £19,000 towards Jaiden’s possible operation – which the family says would take place in the US or Germany.
If the money isn’t needed for the surgery, it will be given to the charity Families Against Neuroblastoma.
Miss Belcher added: “The ride was a great start and we’d like to thank everyone who took part. People have been amazing, with lots of offers to organise other fundraising events.
“Lock Lane got in touch with all the Super League clubs, who sent items for the auction, and my director at work, Zoe, who can’t keep quiet for a minute, is doing a 24-hour sponsored silence.
“It started off as friends and family and has just exploded from there – the amount of support is fantastic.”
Families Against Neuroblastoma has set up an appeal page at http://justgiving.com/jaiden-worrall-appeal and donations of £1–£10 can be made by texting JAID95 and the amount to 70070.
There is also a Facebook page, Jaiden Worrall Fundraising Appeal.